2 Corinthians 7:11

It was not difficult for the Apostle Paul to identify true repentance in the church at Corinth.

Sorrow after a godly sort.

Carefulness.

Clearing.

Indignation.

Fear.

Vehement desire.

Zeal.

Revenge!

In all these things proving oneself clear in a matter.

We have again just witnessed what passes for an apology in the PRC.

And it bore no resemblance to 2 Corinthians 7:11.

On Sunday morning, October 24, Grandville PRC had an announcement read from its pulpit.

We are told that the announcement said that Koole’s Witsius articles were false doctrine and that Rev. Koole admitted to militating against against synod.

I am told it also included a statement that the consistory declares him to be orthodox.

Hard to know exactly what it said, because that announcement is not public.

They muted the microphone while the announcement was read.

And if, as a member of that church, you would like to know what the announcement said because you were not in attendance that morning, they will not give you the announcement itself, but they would be happy to read it to you. (If that sounds familiar, it should.)

I wonder if during the meeting when this course of action was approved, any elder had the temerity to raise his hand and say, “Excuse me, Mr. Chairman, since Rev. Koole taught false doctrine publicly, why are we going to such great lengths to keep this apology private?”

Or this: “Mr. Chairman, 2 Corinthians 7:11 speaks of ‘clearing yourself.’ Wouldn’t it then be a good idea to make sure this is public so that the entire denomination and world knows that Rev. Koole is sorry for what he has done? Does doing our utmost to keep this hidden in the darkness really resemble the clearing of ourselves spoken of in 2 Corinthians 7:11?”

Or this: “Mr. Chairman, since Grandville PRC took such an active role in the ungodly act of deposing Elder Neil Meyer, and since we have never once expressed even a shred of sorrow for that wickedness, maybe now is a time for us to show our congregation and denomination what true repentance looks like?”

Or this: “Mr. Chairman, do we think we can get away with this kind of secret behavior just because we no longer have any members who will hold us accountable?”

But there was a public apology in the Standard Bearer.

I mean, an “apology” in the Standard Bearer.

I need to use quotation marks because it was not an apology.

It included these words: “My consistory pointed out that a number of Witsius’ statements, as they are worded, no matter how I read them and was convinced what Witsius meant by them, stand in contradiction to decisions of our recent synods (in particular those of 2018) and to our confessions, and thus constitute false doctrine.”

But that seems a bit strange.

Is that all he is sorry for?

Is that all the consistory of Grandville PRC pointed out to Rev. Koole?

Compare, for a moment, the theology for which an “apology” had to be made, to a statement made on the editorial page of the Standard Bearer in October of 2018.

In particular I was pointed to Witsius stating, in the context of the utility (usefulness) of holiness and good works, that “Scripture teaches that something must be done that we may be saved.” (Koole, “Apology,” 11/5/21 SB)

But is it altogether improper for preachers so much as to suggest that there is that which one can do (is able to do)? And then, in the end, to go so far as to declare that if a man would be saved, there is that which he must do? (Koole, “What Must I Do…?” 10/1/18 SB)

Let us not forget that in 2018 and 2019, Rev. Koole went on for quite some time and with some vigor to defend the theology of man’s “doing.” That went on until men higher up the food chain in the PRC got him to back off (for a few months).

Well, isn’t Rev. Koole sorry for what he did in the months immediately following Synod 2018? Isn’t he sorry for throwing sand into the eyes of an entire denomination and confusing the people and corrupting the gospel?

Evidently not.

Can’t the consistory of Grandville PRC see that Witsius’ theology is Koole’s theology circa 2018?

Evidently not.

Let us be clear about something. The statement that was read from the pulpit of Grandville PRC was no apology at all. It was no statement of sorrow. It was a complete sham. It was a chloroform-soaked rag applied to the face of every member of that congregation.

Go back to sleep.

It was a sham not only because Rev. Koole was not even in the audience when the announcement was read, as he was off preaching elsewhere that Sunday morning.

Neither was it a sham only because that very evening he was off flirting with the same false doctrine at Southwest PRC. (If you had just apologized for corrupting fundamental doctrines of the faith, wouldn’t you get about preaching sermons that were so focused on the sovereignty and grace (particular, not the other kind) of God that you might even draw the charge of being one-sided?)

Neither was it a sham because a few weeks after admitting he taught false doctrine during the heart of a controversy on justification by faith alone, he was off representing the PRC at NAPARC. (Maybe replace him for this go-around until you can be sure he is orthodox?)

The reason it was a sham, and what makes it so easy to identify it as such, is that he did not apologize for what he wrote immediately after Synod 2018.

Neither did Grandville PRC’s consistory insist that he apologize for that.

But why not?

The theology is the same. In fact, it is almost word for word the same.

Why not go back to the beginning?

Rev. Koole couldn’t do that.

Because to go beyond the Witsius articles to the actual false doctrine itself would touch more men than just Rev. Koole.

Including Rev. McGeown, who has just burst back onto the scene in the PRC.

Rev. McGeown previously made a contribution to the controversy in the PRC by writing a lengthy article in the April 2019 issue of the Protestant Reformed Theological Journal (PRTJ).

What was going on at that time was quite significant.

In direct contradiction to Synod 2018, Rev. Koole was writing that if a man would be saved, that is, if a man would know that he was saved, there was that which he must do.

Revs. Langerak, Lanning, and VanderWal objected.

The rest of the denomination would have none of them.

Everyone rose up to defend faith as a doing as if it were a key tenet of the faith and one that we had been taught from our earliest days.

The three ministers who spoke up against such a theology were pilloried.

Rev. Koole was defended.

Rev. McGeown was no exception.

He took up his pen and wrote his lengthy defense of faith as a doing.

There was no question why he was writing as he was. 

He was defending Rev. Koole, and more importantly, Rev. Koole’s theology.

At a time when the recent controversy was becoming more and more serious for more and more people (“Synod said this was about justification by faith alone?!”), Rev. Koole confused the people and corrupted the gospel with his talk of faith as a doing.

Three ministers rose up in defense of the gospel. 

Rev. McGeown rose up in defense of a man and that man’s theology.

And now he is back.

In an article in the November 15, 2021, issue of the Standard Bearer, Rev. McGeown took it upon himself to educate the readership about the controversy that has just been settled in the PRC.

What is fascinating is that Rev. McGeown’s article appears in the same issue as an “apology” from Rev. Koole.

Which illustrates why the apology can’t go any further.

Were Rev. Koole to apologize for making faith a work in the series of articles that appeared beginning in 2018, Rev. McGeown would certainly have to apologize for his further confusion and misleading of the people by his defense of Koole and his defense of such language in the PRTJ.

And were Rev. McGeown to apologize, that would certainly require the editors of the Standard Bearer to apologize because when they shut down the debate on Rev. Koole’s articles that made faith a work, Prof. Dykstra pointed the readers to Rev. McGeown’s PRTJ article that had defended the language of faith as “doing” as a “thorough, Reformed presentation on faith and works.” 

Not to mention all of the other ministers and elders who defended that theology.

Over and over and over again, all we heard was a defense of Rev. Koole and Rev. Koole’s theology.

But it is not just Rev. Koole.

It’s not just Rev. Koole’s theology.

There are those who console themselves with the fact that Rev. Koole is no longer editor. They are deluding themselves. The sickness goes far deeper than that.

To try and root out the false doctrine that has now permeated the PRC would require far more than just an insincere apology.

Follow that thread all the way, and what you will find is a theological and ecclesiastical Gordian knot.

It involves the men who serve as church visitors and synodical presidents and stated clerks and professors.

Can you imagine what that investigation would uncover?

No, far better for Rev. Koole to fall on his sword and simply “apologize” for dragging Herman Witsius out of the mausoleum.

And now Rev. McGeown is back.

And he shows no remorse for having confused the people when the controversy was reaching fever pitch.

He doesn’t apologize for his having contributed to the confusion.

He doesn’t even mention his earlier contribution.

He has other things to write about now.

And not being satisfied with just confusing the people, he now misleads them.

13 thoughts on “2 Corinthians 7:11

  1. May God grant us the grace to look at our own sin and misery, rather than looking over our shoulder. May God grant us each this beautiful gift of godly sorrow that works repentance, a gift our Savior earned at the cross (Acts 5:31). May God give us the grace to look introspectively individually and as the RPC. This call of the gospel to repentance and faith comes to us individually and as a denomination, first. May God be gracious, slow to anger and of great mercy. May God in His great mercy, save sinners.
    Your sister in Christ,
    Sarah

  2. The connection of Rev. Koole and Rev. McGeown are interesting to me. I agree that they both have the same theology. Five days after the announcement regarding Rev. Koole Rev. McGeown wrote a baffling Facebook post. He quotes Witsius. This quote is no longer on Facebook, and I dont believe I can attach a screenshot, but this was his quote:

    Herman Witsius “All the Christian virtues or graces are contained in these two, faith and love, which comprehend every affection of a pious soul. It is the property of love to give up and offer oneself and all he has to God; of faith to recieve and accept of God freely giving himself to us. And therefore faith alone is adapted to recieve and appropriate the righteousness of Christ, on account of which we are justified.” (The Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man, vol. 1, p 409.)

    It shocked me that any minister in the PRC would dare quote Witsius just days after such an announcement.

  3. Dewey, thank you again for your public, faithful leadership is this controversy with many in leadership roles in the PRC. My last response to your blog got me kicked out of both Adams and Covenant schools. I can only imagine the hatred you face because of your faithful witness and leadership by way of this blog.

    The hypocrisy of our opposition is telling. I quote from Prof Cammenga’s protest of Synod 2017. (Page 267) “I protest what I believe to have been a serious failure on the part of Synod 2016. This was the failure to implement the requirement of the Formula of Subscription. The requirement of the Formula to which I refer is the requirement that “if at any time the consistory, Classis, or synod, upon sufficient grounds of suspicion and to preserve the uniformity and purity of doctrine, may deem it proper to require of us a further explanation of our sentiments respecting any particular article of the (Belgic) Confession of Faith, the (Heidelberg) Catechism, or the explanation of the National Synod(of Dordrecht), we do hereby promise to be always willing and ready to comply with such requisition….”
    “ To begin with, he (Neil Meyer) SK..ought to be held accountable for, besides what he has written in the material of his appeal, his remarks on the floor of these assemblies “… “And more than that, synod should have appointed a committee to conduct a thorough investigation of the brother’s views, with follow-up to any of his answers by the delegates of the synod.”
    Page 268 “ And if we are serious about upholding the important place of the Formula of Subscription in the life of our churches, this is a requirement of the Formula that we ought to be ready to implement in the future. Office bearers must be held accountable for their signing of the Formula of Subscription.”

    Both Prof Cammenga and Rev Koole have stood in false doctrine openly and publicly. Why no examination? One can write a supposed apology in the SB and the other can openly militate against binding decisions of synod. Where are the defenders of truth and righteousness in the PRC?

    In Christ,

    Steve Kamps

  4. Reformation or Schism? The scriptures is the standard we use to judge, not man’s wisdom. What we hear from the pulpits convince us that the RPC is not schism, but God’s reformation of His churches.

  5. I’m curious: what kind of pressure did Grandville PRC’s consistory feel that resulted in these meaningless and insignificant apologies and yet deemed them sufficient to end the matter? It seems to me that readers/hearers of them would be divided into two groups. One would find any kind of apology totally unnecessary and the other would find the apologies given both wholly inadequate and deeply offensive to the truth of sovereign grace.

    I’d like also to underscore Sarah Courtney’s above plea: Your analysis of these apologies in relation to prevailing conditions in the PRC highlight the grievous end of respect of persons. May God graciously preserve His children in His fear, protecting them from the fear of men!

  6. Even though Ed and I did not see the entire picture of this theological and ecclesiastical gordian knot of corruption and lies at the time of our departure from the PRC, we saw enough to enable us to flee from it. It is interesting that Revs. Koole and VanOverloop were key persons at Classis East Jan 2021 when Rev A Lanning was deposed for warning the pew of the PRC there was evil in its midst. I will never forget how the ministers and elders at that Classis shunned Rev Lanning as if he were leprous, but hugged, consoled and encouraged VanOverloop. The PRC chose who and what they loved at that classis. Interesting, isn’t it? Classis Jan 2021 worried most how to protect VO’s reputation. And now Koole, that chief harasser and hunter of Rev A Lanning, has been publicly shown as the militator and liar. And the PRC dares to allow him to continue as one of Jehovah’s shepherds. I am convinced the PRC has deluded themselves into thinking that the God of the Old Testament has turned into a modern winking God who doesn’t mind so much when He is lied about and His prophets killed.

    1. Thank you for this comment and the reminder of what went on at that classis. As PR ministers and professors make work of re-writing the history, your words are a chilling reminder of the true spiritual condition of the PRC.

  7. Rev Van Overloop apologized for the statement in the sermon that was protested to Classis East. His consistory and the consistory of the church where he preached the offending statement accepted that apology. Classis required Rev Van Overloop to apologize again, which he did.

    Rev Koole did not admit to militating against Synod, but only that the Witsius statements he quoted in the SB were not acceptable, millitating as you well know needs intent. He apologized for quoting them in the SB. Witsius is not now on a forbidden list so that he or his books can never be quoted again. But his consistory judged the statements in question to be unorthodox, so that Rev Koole apologized for them.

    Rev Lanning apologized for nothing, which is one of the reasons why Classis approved his deposition for public schism.

    The statement hotly debated in the SB after October 2018, “If a man would be saved” was never protested, not by Rev Lanning, not by Rev N. Langerak, not by Rev M VanderWal, not by You, not by anyone. SB debates are not the same thing as official protests where the protestant would have to prove to an assembly that the statement in question is unorthodox. That you never bothered to do.

    1. Dowie, have protests ever been lodged against articles in the Standard Bearer? In the 1950s, when the SB was open to theological debate, much was written on both sides of the issue, by those in favor of the conditional covenant, and by those who opposed it. I don’t know that protests were ever lodged by the men who were warring over the issue.

      I tried to go the way of protest with Rev. Slopsema and his meditation in the SB and had that continued, it would have been years before the issue was settled. All the while, the false doctrine would have stood on the pages of the magazine.

      But let’s not whitewash what went on with Rev. VanOverloop’s sermon, shall we? That was a complete disaster. We all know what it took to finally drag a public apology out of Rev. VO, Faith Church, and Classis East. All the while the couple protesting the sermon was maligned and hated by all.

      Mr. Neil Meyer tried to protest a sermon once. Remember how that went?

      Protest and appeal in the PRC is as dead as a rotten skunk by the side of the road.

      Who was it that protested Rev. Lanning’s Jeremiah sermon? Did that go the way of protest and appeal? Did that go the way of good church order?

      Those who opposed Synod 2018 were at liberty to undermine and contradict it at will. And they did so. And now, men who were public in their opposition to Synod 2018 are being put up for elder.

      History has shown what the PRC will tolerate and what it will not tolerate. It will tolerate false doctrine and those who teach it. Has discipline ever been applied to any elder at Hope Church who saw to the murder of Mr. Neil Meyer and supported (tooth and nail) the false doctrine being taught there? No, in fact, the very men who gave the minister the strongest and most vocal support are now themselves being put back up for elder.

      What the PRC will not tolerate is a rebuke. When a rebuke comes, then discipline and deposition must be applied swiftly and harshly.

      Libby Ophoff’s comment perfectly captures what went on Classis East and in the PRC.

    2. Dowie, your statement that “Rev Lanning apologized for nothing” is quite vague and certainly cannot be a reason to depose a man from office. It has been stated before but I will say it again, the consistory never judged that those sermons were not the word of God and neither did the denomination. The whole process was polluted from beginning to end and this blog has done a marvelous job proving that.

      Only the Word can judge all men and when that Word is wielded by spiritual men exercising church power can there be the confidence that Jesus Christ himself gave the verdict (1 Cor. 5:4).

      Reverend Lanning brought the Word of the Lord to the congregation and denomination and to apologize for bringing the word is to be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:16). He had to preach that word, insist upon it, stand behind it, and defend it, come what may.

  8. Dewey, first you imply that protests are not made against alleged theological error in the SB. You then say you tried to protest Rev. Slopsema’s article. Let’s be honest about this. You abrogated the responsibility you had, to continue that protest, because it would take time. You saw what you believed to be a serious issue, and after a conversation or two you gave up. The way of protest and appeal is difficult. Accusations must be proven. Much easier to go online and write hyperbolic statements, full of vitriol, assured of your safety against consequence in this life by a sympathetic consistory, in a new denomination. I say this in love, not anger, desiring your repentance.

    Yes, Neil Meyer did protest a sermon, and his protest was not upheld. Neil protested that decision, and appealed a decision against him. Eventually, both his protest and appeal were upheld.

    There was no whitewash of Rev. VO. Classis upheld the protest against Rev. VO. They ruled that the apology must be public. Rev VO did not fight the decision of Classis. In fact he had apologized for his statement, to his consistory and the consistory of Faith before the first protest came in. Christian charity requires forgiveness when the brother retracts and apologizes. Rev. VO’s statement was declared false doctrine. Rev. VO did not maintain or defend this false statement, so Rev. VO was not declared guilty of heresy. By the way, if Rev DeWolf in 1953 had apologized for his heretical statement, even he would not have been suspended and deposed. Think about that! A heretic reveals himself as such by his impenitence after the church has ruled against him.

    Andy Lanning’s sermon on Jeremiah 23 was not protested (or protests, if they existed, were not immediately treated) because charges of public schism were brought against him by his consistory. Had he apologized, or had the consistory of Byron Center taken him off the pulpit after that sermon, suspension and deposition could have been avoided. Andy Lanning was not deposed for the Jeremiah 23 sermon alone. Once Andy was no longer a minister, protests against his sermon were moot. Andy Lanning did not choose to appeal his deposition, but shortly after the decision he left.

    1. Dowie,
      I object to your characterization of my writing as “vitriolic.” I like to think of my writing as quite pleasant.

      I also believe you when you write that you write what you do out of love. But I disagree when you say I am “assured of safety” by a sympathetic consistory in a new denomination. If my consistory, or members of my congregation, were convinced that what I was doing was sin, they would not stand idly by, I can assure you of that. They would love me enough to correct me.

      How striking that you appeal to Christian charity in one paragraph and then seem to forget about such in the next paragraph.

      Can you point me to where charges of public schism were brought against Rev. Lanning by his consistory?

      Or are you referring to the charges brought by the church visitors?

      Whitewash, Dowie, whitewash. Neil Meyer “appealed a decision against him”? You mean when he was deposed two weeks after doing the church orderly thing of protest and appeal?

      I ask the question if articles in the SB have ever been protested. That is a fair question. I don’t think they ever have. In other words, it isn’t normal to protest something that is written in the SB (which also means that what I tried to do with Rev. Slopsema was abnormal). Normally, debate would ensue so that the issues could be decided. However, the editors of the SB squelched that debate.

      You are correct, I tried to go that route of protest regarding that SB article, probably out of naivete. But let’s deal with facts. You say that after a conversation or two I gave up. I believe I laid that out in a previous post, but there was no giving up. I was going to take the matter to Rev. Slopsema’s consistory, but by then, the PRC was moving at warp speed (not about false doctrine, but about a rebuke), so my time was limited in the PRC.

      I’m not upset about the fact that my protest against Rev. Slopsema was cut short. It would have been a colossal waste of my time and his and would have accomplished nothing. Nobody would have repented. Nobody would have changed.

      Which is striking.

      For a denomination that tries to make repentance a condition to all sorts of things in the covenant, they do precious little of it.

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